Moving Away From Our “Eiffel Tower” Approach to Offshore Processing Equipment
Gerald Verbeek, Verbeek Management Services, has served as the Oil and Gas Facilities’ technical paper editor since 2013.
As I write this introduction, I just registered for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston. This year will be the 50th conference and if you have the opportunity to attend this event I strongly suggest you do. Walking around the exhibits gives you a deep appreciation of the state of our industry. There are examples everywhere of high-tech, cutting-edge technology to do things that engineers like myself could only dream of when we started our careers in the early 1980s. And if you cannot go there, browse the papers that were presented in OnePetro.
With this event coming up it is only fitting that I selected some offshore-technology-related papers. And when it comes to offshore technology, I personally feel that we need to do much more on the seabed: building these huge platforms to house the processing equipment just doesn’t seem right. After all, we don’t include a structure like the Eiffel Tower with separators, pumps, and compressors on the top observation platform in an onshore development plan. And yet, how many jacket platforms are there around the world?
So the papers in this selection deal with subsea processing, and in one of them, which was presented at last year’s OTC, the authors open the abstract with the following observation: “In a cost constrained scenario, technology driven solutions aiming at Capex reductions are crucial to make subsea processing economically attractive. Subsea processing encompasses three main fields: subsea gas or liquid separation, subsea compression, and subsea boosting. Despite the fact that boosting is a discipline in itself, both separation and compression will also rely on subsea pumps to support the process”.
In that context it should come as no surprise that the three selected papers deal with subsea pumps: multiphase pumps in general, multiphase pumps for incremental oil recovery of aging deep offshore fields, and high-voltage subsea pumps. Each paper offers ideas on how to achieve Capex reductions and thus how to make subsea processing more attractive. And maybe as you ponder the content of these papers, an offshore development plan may evolve that does not require an “Eiffel Tower”.
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